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All aboard!

A new passenger train between League City and Galveston is set to open next weekend, and if it’s a success the scope may be extended to Houston and more trains.

Financed mostly by a $750,000 federal grant, the alternative transportation program also is expected to provide free rides from the mainland to Galveston Island during the Dickens on the Strand Festival in December and Mardi Gras and Memorial Day weekend in 2003.

“The initial demonstrations will be on holiday weekends, when the congestion on the causeway reaches its peaks,” said Houston transportation consultant Barry Goodman, whose firm has helped develop the new rail plans. “We hope to demonstrate the effectiveness of rail passenger service as an alternative.”

Smart idea. I-45 into and out of Galveston is a parking lot over holiday and festival weekends, so if this is ever going to be viable, that’s the time for it.

No one expects rail service to supplant cars as the main means of rush-hour traffic, but Goodman and others say every option should be explored to help solve a problem that has existed for decades.

“I have read discussions that go back at least 70 years in which the Houston City Council was talking about the same problem,” Goodman said. “They were talking about how Houston was getting so congested and how they needed to find alternatives to cars.

Insert standard those-who-forget-the-past quote here.

I hope this project is a success. Any momentum for rail is a good thing in my book.

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